A scheme to share illegal angling activity instantly on the social messaging service WhatsApp has been hailed a success just weeks after launching.
The Shrewsbury Poacher Alert initiative uses WhatsApp to quickly share information about suspect angling activity in order to assist voluntary bailiffs in the Shrewsbury area.
And already the scheme is bearing fruit. Chris Wood, secretary of Shrewsbury Anglers Club, is one of the officials pioneering the idea, and he spoke to Angling Times about the problems local clubs were encountering.
He said: “One of the problems with poachers is that they will often move somewhere else after being kicked off a fishery, and angling clubs needed a way to quickly pass on information about illegal angling activity.
“The Voluntary Bailiff Service does an excellent job and we wanted to help them by finding a way to communicate issues with them fast.”
After talking to a number of local angling clubs, it was decided that WhatsApp could be used to the bailiffs’ advantage.
“We found that WhatsApp is the best way to communicate quickly, so we created a group containing head bailiffs from clubs including the Birmingham Anglers Association, Prince Albert Angling Society, and Lymm Angling Club,” Chris added.
Just a few weeks into the scheme, it’s working.
“The other day, one bailiff caught four anglers fishing with no permits, and after they were kicked off the water they were reported in the WhatsApp group so that other bailiffs were instantly aware,” said Chris.
“By sharing information about poaching incidents it is also possible for bailiffs to gain back-up when entering potentially hostile situations – when offending anglers can sometimes become aggressive.
“The scheme has been created solely for the benefit of our sport, and I hope that other angling clubs can use our idea to their advantage too.”
How your club can get involved...
If you are an official of your angling club and want to start a similar scheme, follow these simple steps...
1) Go to the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (android)
2) Search ‘WhatsApp’ and download the app
3) Open the app and create an account
4) Add the members’ mobile numbers to your phone contacts (these will automatically become WhatsApp contacts)
5) Open the app and select ‘new group’ on the right-hand side of the menu and add any club members or bailiffs
6) You will now be able to share any information, images or videos relating to illegal fishing